Commuters wait for the Orange Line on Monday, June 6, 2016. Overcrowding on platforms and extended delays are expected due to the next Metro SafeTrack surge project, which begins Thursday and includes 42 days of continuous single-tracking.
(Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

Metro’s next surge is going to be long- and likely painful — for users of the Orange Line’s western end.

Unlike past SafeTrack projects that have created disruptions for a week or two, this one involves 42 days of single-tracking between Vienna and West Falls Church, plus four weekend shutdowns. It’s the longest of the 10-month SafeTrack program.

So chances are you are going to feel the pinch, whether you commute via Metro or travel along any major corridors in Fairfax County. But don’t worry, we’ve  got everything you need to know about Surge #9, and some options that can help you navigate through it.

Before going into those options, here are the basics:

  • The work on the Orange Line starts Thursday and ends Oct. 26.
  • During rush hours, Metro will operate a shuttle train between Vienna and West Falls Church every 24 minutes. Expect these shuttle trains to  be very crowded. In addition, all Orange Line riders will need to get off at West Falls Church and get on another Orange Line train to continue the trip toward the District.
  • Metro expects to provide normal service levels at other Orange Line stations. But after 10 p.m., trains will operate between Vienna and New Carrollton every 20 minutes.
  • Weekend shutdowns:  The Vienna, Dunn Loring and West Falls Church stations will be closed on the weekends of Sept. 24-25 and Oct. 1-2.  Free shuttle buses will replace trains between Vienna and East Falls Church stations from 7 a.m. Saturday through closing Sunday. The Vienna and Dunn Loring stations will be closed on the weekends of Oct. 8-9 and Oct. 15-16. Free shuttle buses replace trains between Vienna and West Falls Church stations from 7 a.m. Saturday through closing Sunday.

Thinking about driving?  Think twice. 

Whatever you do to weather Surge #9, Fairfax County officials are urging you not to drive alone. Driving could be as frustrating. Transportation officials predict the rail disruptions will likely impact traffic along I-66, I-495, the Dulles Toll Road, and I-95.

If you can, telework or change your schedule so you can avoid the rush hour gridlock.

We know telecommuting isn’t an option for everyone so look into the bus, carpooling or biking to work as alternates for your commute. The good news is you’ll have time to try different options to find which works best for you.

Bus service

Metro and some of the local bus systems are providing extra, and in some cases free, service to accommodate more passengers and get you where you need to go. There are bus options to take you to other rail lines or between the affected Orange Line stations.  If traffic gets too heavy, you can choose a bus from as far as Loudoun County.

Metrobus will run free shuttle service between Vienna and West Falls Church every 5 to 10 minutes from 5 to 9 a.m. and from 3 to 8 p.m. Shuttles will not stop at Dunn Loring.

At Vienna: Take Metrobus 1A to Ballston or Metrobus 2B to Dunn Loring.

At Dunn Loring: The 1B runs to Ballston during the morning and evening rush hour; the 2A connects to East Falls Church and Ballston; and the 2T goes to Tysons where you can connect to the Silver Line.

At West Falls Church:  On weekends when the station is scheduled to be closed you may want to take the 3T  to McLean or the 28A to Tysons or King St.-Old Town.

If you are traveling west of Vienna, consider Metrobus 5A, which runs from L’Enfant Plaza to Dulles International Airport with stops in Rosslyn and at the Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride Lot.

See Metro’s full list of bus offerings here.

Fairfax Connector will offer supplemental Express service from the Vienna Metro station to Pentagon. The fare is $4.

There is express service to Pentagon from Backlick North Park & Ride, Gambrill Road Park & Ride, Reston North Park & Ride and Saratoga Park & Ride.

The Connector also has the following routes in the area:

  • 401 Dunn Loring via Tysons Westpark to Tysons Corner, Franconia-Springfield
  • 402 Dunn Loring to Tysons Corner, Franconia-Springfield
  • 462 Dunn Loring to Tysons Corner
  • 463 Vienna to Tysons Corner

Find more Fairfax Connector’s details here.

The Potomac and Rappahanock Transportation Commission provides bus service for people who travel on I-66 from west of Vienna. You could take an Omni Ride from Manassas or Gainesville to reach the Pentagon or downtown; or consider taking the Manassas Metro Direct to the Tysons Metro Station on the Silver Line.

Commuter rail

The Virginia Railway Express is a good choice. Metro riders who take I-66 from west of Vienna, should consider taking VRE’s Manassas Line at Burke Centre. The trains take you to Crystal City, L’Enfant Plaza or Union Station

Just remember that the trains go to Union Station in the mornings and start from there in the afternoons.

Biking

Officials say recent surges have brought an increase in bike traffic around the areas affected by SafeTrack, suggesting that many Metro commuters appear to be switching to cycling to avoid the service disruptions.

However, Capital Bikeshare doesn’t have racks at the affected stations, so you will need your own bike.  (Where Bikeshare is available, the system continues to provide a special SafeTrack flat rate of $2 for every single trip under 30 minutes. You also have the option of a daily membership starting at $8).

Bike groups are working with transportation officials to put up signs for bike routes near the surge areas.  Find more details at the affected stations and through the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

Biking on your own? The Washington & Old Dominion Trail, is a scenic bike route from Herndon with connections to Vienna, Dunn Loring and Falls Church.

Parking, Carpools, Slugging and other resources

If you usually park at Vienna or Dunn Loring Metro stations, you can park West Falls Church or Silver Line stations instead.

You should also consider ridesharing, carpooling and Slugging.  Other commuting resources available through Commuter Connections.